Wahluke School Board discusses allowing open campus lunch

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Mattawa — The Wahluke School Board discussed allowing Wahluke High School students the ability to leave campus during lunch at a regular board meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 10.

Wahluke High School principal Cody Marlow would like students to be able to leave campus for lunch to help eliminate some of the crowding at lunch time. Currently, the high school has two lunches with approximately 350 students in each. Both the library and the courtyard are being utilized by students, but there still isn’t enough space.

“We’re trying to relieve the pressure as much as we can,” Marlow said.

Marlow said that while the lines are moving smoothly, only 500 students are eating lunch.

“The 200 kids not eating concerns me,” Marlow said.

Marlow proposes that if open campus lunch is allowed that it only be for the upper grades and come with guidelines and parental approval.

“I want to reward the good behavior kids,” Marlow said. “I don’t want to make rules that only deal with the ten percent. If they want to get out of the chaos, let them. That’s part of what high school is, trying to prepare kids for individualism and being an adult. We need to maneuver their mistakes in the right direction.”

School board member and Mattawa Police Officer Maybeline Pantaleon expressed concern that students away from school would cause problems and that she would have to deal with them. Marlow said he believed that for most students, one encounter with the police would be all they would need to get them back in line.

“We want them to be safe all the time,” school board member Seth Weeks said. “Lunch is a small part of the day. Maybe giving them a little bit of freedom is good.”

No decision was made during the meeting. Marlow will work out more details before a final decision is made.

The Wahluke School Board also discussed procedures related to out-of-state training. A lot of controversy has been swirling around the Wahluke School District in regards to a training in Nevada that cost the district of over $80,000. The amount of spending and the cancelation of several August programs have been linked by some people in the district. As a result of the controversy, the district has put some new procedures in place to keep such problems from happening again, such as having the superintendent approve all out-of-state trainings prior to the event.

Some of the school board members expressed frustration with the whole situation.

“I think we should approve any training that is that much,” Weeks said. “We spend a lot of money all the time.”

Weeks noted that the districts trains a lot of teachers that leave the district. He suggested bringing trainers into the district to train all of the staff.

Superintendent Bob Eckert said that it would be possible to send two teachers to a training and have them train everybody else.

Gigi Calaway, Community Coalition coordinator for the Wahluke School District said that it is the goal of the district to bring trainings in house, unless it is for a specific grant or program.

There was no board action regarding teacher training.

With the district’s financial issues in consideration, Weeks and Pantaleon questioned Eckert about $4,000 in recently purchased furniture for the technology department. When asked if the $4,000 was in the budget, Tracy Plouse, director of Finance and Operations, said that the expenditures had been approved the superintendent before they had been spent.

“I don’t think we should be spending this,” Weeks said. “If I were the superintendent, I wouldn’t allow it. We can’t let everybody do what they want.”

Eckert said that the district is starting to put discussion on spending in place.

“We just have not had good procedures and policies in the district,” Eckert said. “That is surfacing.”

Eckert said in regards to the $4,000 spent on office furniture that the remodel in the technology department had not been detailed out. Weeks asked if the board needed to start approving all checks before they were paid, instead of afterwards.

The checks payable were passed with one nay.

The board did first readings of an updated policy in regards to meetings, public notices, quorum, meeting conduct, order of business and public comment. As part of the discussion, the board agreed that they would like to go back to two meetings a month. The news dates will be the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month. The policy and meeting changes will be approved at the October meeting, Tuesday, Oct. 12.

The board also did a first reading on a policy regarding revenues from local, state and federal sources. The second reading on this policy will also be at the next meeting.

Rachal Pinkerton may be reached via email at rpinkerton@suntribunenews.com.

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